Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans


Kimberly in South Africa: about sharks, lions and penguins!

The 2nd week is over, time flies! We started this week with the dogs in the dog rescue center B.A.R.C. We try to do this every week, so that the dogs get some exercise and some personal attention.

Tuesday the 21st as it finally happened and we were allowed to board the boat. This was our first time on our own boat. The alarm went off at 5 am, and at 7.30 we were on the boat. This trip we went as ‘tourists’ to learn about the work on the boat and saw a beautiful two meter long female greeat whiteshark. I kept track of this shark on a form: gender, size, arrival time, behavior, and scars. Later, these data are transferred to the computer. The 2nd trip started at 3 pm and we assisted in smaller jobs on the boat, such handing out as wetsuits and shoes to the tourists. Unfortunately we did not see any sharks, but despite that, the guestst went into the cage to get some pictures. On the way back we saw a whale, a southern right whale!
On Wednesday the 22nd we visited the Panthera Big Cat Sanctuary. It is interesting and heartbreaking to hear all the stories about poachers, breeding farms, lion walks, circuses, bone trade and canned hunts that brought these beautiful big cats to 1 of the 7 real places of refuge (see photo). Unfortunately, the bone trade is legally allowed for up to 800 lions per year and that number is increased to 1500 lions per year for the bone trade alone! During canned hunts, people can choose a lion they want to kill. This lion will then be placed in a kind of cage, making it easy to hit for the ‘hunter’.

A rescued lion.

On Thursday the 23rd we went to the penguins. We took a walk through the reserve where penguin pairs have a their nests. Penguins are incredibly cute and funny!!

On Friday the 24th we attended a presentation of our marine biologist Tom Slough about shark behavior. It was very interesting to hear about, because I always thought that sharks could not see the difference between a surfer and a sea lion. Apparently that is not true: a shark is however extremely curious and sometimes takes a look. He does this by biting in (a shark examines an object whether it is edible or not). A shark does not like us at all, our bone / fat ratio is wrong, we are too skinny. He therefore releases us again, but because of the startle reaction during a bite people understandably pull out arms or legs. This allows the teeth to cut right through you, whereas if you try to remain as calm as possible, they will only remain ‘holes’. Fortunately, an attack almost never occurs. We spent the afternoon processing data in the computer.

Where Oceans Meet!

On Saturday the 25th the tour went to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of South Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. My fellow volunteer is standing on the Indian Ocean side and I am on the Atlantic side. We climbed further up and tried to spot the rays that can live here and be two meters in diameter. Unfortunately, we could not see them because of dredging in the harbor next to it.

On Sunday the 26th it was incredibly bad weather, we could not go out. We therefore prepared for the 21 Ocean Days. These are 21 days in September (September 1 to September 21) that are dedicated to the ocean.
More about that later!

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